Germany – Black Blood

Beer Bash

It is certainly on mine and Mrs. Sip’s boozy bucket list to one day attend the Oktoberfest event in Munich, Germany. After all, Germany is already a place where we absolutely love the beers, food, and snacks, so why not join some fellow revelers. For now, though, let’s take a journey together to Munich and get into the spirit of the festival. Don’t forget your lederhosen!

Although named Oktoberfest, the event begins on the third weekend of September – coincidentally right around the time of the Sip Advisor’s birthday! – and lasts until the first Sunday of October. The event is over 200 years old and was first celebrated in commemoration of the marriage between King Ludwig and Queen Therese in 1810. The grounds which have always housed the festival are called Theresienwiese and are known by locals as the Wiesn.

Oktoberfest

Only breweries operating within Munich are allowed to supply the festival with their suds and each has a tent on the fairgrounds that holds thousands of people. The beers available include: Hofbräuhaus München, Spaten-Franziskaner-Bräu, Paulaner Bräu, Löwenbräu, Hacker-Pschorr Bräu, and Augustiner Bräu. There’s a couple in that list I know I’ve enjoyed in the past, so things are looking up for Mr. and Mrs. Sip!

In the beginning, the beer was brewed in March with a higher alcohol percentage, so it could last through the summer. It was then expended in the fall, so as to diminish the stock for the next brewing season… and the circle of life continues endlessly. It should be noted that there is also a wine tent during the modern day Oktoberfests, appeasing all walks of life.

The festivities aren’t allowed to begin until an official 12-gun salute, followed by the mayor announcing “O’ zapft is!,” meaning “It’s tapped!” The first mug of ale is then handed to the Minister-President of the State of Bavaria, and only then can us regular folks start boozing. Oktoberfest has a carnival feel to it, as the event began as a county fair, featuring horseracing, various contests, and freak shows. The activities have changed over time, but the freak show is now just a natural occurrence.

Oktoberfest Punishment

If accompanied by an adult, 14 year olds are allowed to partake in all the joys of Oktoberfest and 16 year olds can join the fun on their own accord. Young children are even allowed to attend the festival (without drinking), although I’m not sure I’d want to leave my kids at any daycare tent there. The child crowd has resulted in numerous cases of missing kids, as many as 100 reports in 2012, thanks to parents imbibing a little too much.

In fact, the Lost and Found department is quite busy during Oktoberfest, having approximately 4,000 misplaced items come to their attention each year. Other lost possessions have included cell phones, wallets, passports, glasses, keys, clothing items, dentures, crutches, wheelchairs, strollers, and even dogs. Perhaps the most bizarre item turned in was a Viking helmet… although, it does kind of fit the whole theme.

Although swigging from glass beer steins is a highlight of the party, they weren’t used until 1892. Before that, stone and metal steins were filled with wonderful German brews. The current glass is called a Maß (good luck with the pronunciation!), which holds 1 litre of beer and will cost around €12 each pour. These steins are great souvenirs, but rather than purchase one, many tourists will try to steal it (Mrs. Sip, I’m looking at you!). This can result in a charge of theft if caught by security guards.

Oktoberfest Lost Child

If you can’t handle the stronger beer mixed with hot temperatures, you may be labeled with the term Bierleichen, which translated means Beer Corpse. Water and pop are also available for purchase to quench your thirst, but cost nearly as much as the booze, so you might as well keep drinking beer. Food options include roasted chickens, sausages, giant pretzels, and other traditional German fare.

Some downsides: While tourists may have visions of oom-pah bands playing the day away, while getting their drink on, music above 85 decibels isn’t allowed to be played until after 6:00pm. Also, to use a toilet, you will likely be charged, but that’s no different to other parts of the country and continent. This concept has provided some funny stories for the Sip Advisor over the years and travels.

To get a spot in one of the packed tents, visitors may have to purchase food and drink vouchers beforehand, sort of a reservation, exhibiting that you will make full use of the tent and drop some good money inside. Similarly, hotels book up very quickly during this time and making arrangements one year in advance is common. The price for accommodation will also be at a premium, so beware!

Oktoberfest Sleep

In 2004, a counterfeit ticket ring was busted after waiters inside a couple of the tents contacted police when they were handed suspicious vouchers. Had the scheme worked, the beer companies would have lost about $500,000 thanks to the nearly 30,000 forgeries. Sticking with crime, stein fights are known to occur and serious injuries have happened. Prosecution can lead to sentences of between six months and life in prison, depending on severity of the injuries.

Sadly, Oktoberfest has been forced into cancellation 24 times, mostly as a result of war and cholera epidemics. There were also issues during the 1920’s depression, which caused the event to be missed. On the bright side, Paris Hilton was banned from future Oktoberfests after attending the festival in 2006 as a spokesperson for a local canned wine product. She was said to have cheapened the event… a serious no-no in Munich circles.

Amid all the celebrating, a terrorist attack occurred at the 1980 Oktoberfest, where a pipe bomb was detonated, killing 13 people and injuring more than 200. Officials concluded that it was the work of right-wing extremist Gundolf Köhler, who died while placing the explosive. There is some dispute over whether Köhler acted alone or was part of a larger conspiracy.

Oktoberfest 2013 - Opening Day

The festival has jumped into the digital age with a few apps that enhance the whole experience. The event’s official app lets users input their height, weight, and how much beer they’ve consumed to learn their blood-alcohol level and how long it will take to sober up. There’s also the ‘Wiesn Flirt and Find’ app, which allows visitors to meet on the grounds for romance, a quick hook-up, or whatever else they may fancy.

If you can’t get to Germany, Oktoberfest events around the world include: Cincinnati, Ohio (largest in the United States); Denver, Colorado; Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario (largest in Canada); Blumenau, Brazil; Lima, Peru; Hong Kong, China; Bangalore, India; Hoh-Chi-Minh City, Vietnam; and Taybeh, Palestinian, of all places. Taybeh is home to the only brewery in all of the West Bank region.

Germany: Black Blood

Black Blood Cocktail

  • 1 oz Jagermeister
  • 1 oz Blue Curacao
  • Top with Squirt
  • Garnish with a Lemon Wedge

If anyone out there wants to sponsor the Sip Advisor’s trip to Oktoberfest, that would be awesome. In exchange, I’ll try to steal a stein for you, risking freedom and well-being for my generous benefactor. I think it would totally be worth it!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3.5 Sips out of 5):
As per usual, I went with Grapefruit Soda over Grapefruit Juice because I’ve learned over time that I just don’t like heavy juices (orange, pineapple, etc.) in my cocktails. These colours came together really interestingly, with the yellow Squirt turning some of the Blue Curacao and Jagermeister green. It certainly isn’t black, like the drink’s name would have you thinking.

November 5 – International Incident

Drink Nation

I recently stumbled upon a report about the 10 greatest drinking nations in the world. Sadly, Canada did not make that list, but neither did our neighbours to the south… or even their neighbours to the south. Here are my thoughts on those that did crack the top 10 and where I think Canadians need to improve to better our future ranking.

10. Australia

While Australia has wine and beer creations to its credit, I can’t think of any liquors they’ve introduced to the world. The article does point out that former Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke made the Guinness Book of World Records for downing 2.5 pints of beer in 2.5 seconds. If that’s the effort your politicians are putting forward, I guess you deserve to be on this list.

Kangaroo Drinking

Wow, even the roos are getting in on the act!

9. Germany

The land of Oktoberfest; the event which has largely earned them this spot on the countdown. Germany is known for their beer making, beer serving (wenches impressively carrying eight beer steins at the same time), and beer consumption. Although the Czech citizens drink more beer than the Germans, that’s still not enough to topple this suds nation.

8. Uganda

How does an African nation make this list? Does professional wrestler Kamala (the Ugandan Giant) have something to do with this, forcing the country’s way onto the list through sheer intimidation tactics? Apparently residents will gather and sit around a pot of ajono (beer-like substance) and pass a long straw around. Not sure that earns their way onto this list.

7. South Korea

All this despite South Korea’s strict social guidelines. Apparently, it’s common practice in the country to get plastered on mixes of beer and whiskey and let loose, getting out all of your pent-up anger and frustration. So, basically what every drinker in the world does when they’re a few wobbly pops deep into the night!

Korean drinking

6. Moldova

According to the World Health Organization, Moldova is the most liquored up nation in the world. Stats say that per person, each resident drinks 18 litres of alcohol in a year. Does that include children? The former Soviet nation’s favourite hangover cure is pickle juice and I’m down with that. Perhaps we could share some Moldovian fruit brandies, followed by pickles for breakfast!

5. Ecuador

The local liquor in Ecuador, Zhumir, is affectionately known as “hangover in a bottle”… that’s a challenge the Sip Advisor would like to take, given my invincibility towards the morning after suffering. Etiquette in the country dictates that you cannot start drinking until someone has made a toast, so if you’re all alone, make sure there’s a mirror in your room to cheers yourself.

4. France

Home to the Champagne region and too-many-to-count wineries. Apparently the people of France turn their nose up to selling liquor from other countries. That’s not really surprising, but it means they’re really missing out, especially with Belgian beers, Spanish sangria and English gin offerings so close to their borders.

french-funny-flag

What does this have to do with drinking? Nothing, but I’m posting it anyway! Suck it, France!

3. Russia

Russians drink vodka at all times of the day. It’s just their way of life. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, bedtime snack… no time of day is enjoyed sans vodka. Russia is the all-important buckle of the Vodka Belt. I’m totally down with people that don’t drink in normal conventions. We’d get along real well.

2. China

Sadly, this site has never received a viewer from the massive country of China. Thanks to the nation’s censorship laws, citizens often have to tether on to other countries internet signals to access non-governmental approved sites. I guess the more citizens you have (and China of course has tons) the more liquor you need to keep the population docile and happy and therefore your portfolio in the alcohol world grows.

1. United Kingdom

While I’ve always had a good time drinking in the U.K., I’m not sure I agree with the country taking the top spot on this list. That said, the country is lined with bars that are often packed to the brim with people looking to get boozed up. They can also be credited with much of the world’s gin production and for that, we thank them. Party on Brits!

Drink #309: International Incident

International Incident Drink Recipe

  • 0.5 oz Irish Crème
  • 0.5 oz Vodka
  • 0.5 oz Amaretto
  • 0.5 oz Coffee Liqueur
  • 0.5 oz Macadamia Nut Liqueur
  • Splash of Milk
  • Garnish with Macadamia Nuts

If the fine folks in Mexico can’t even crack the list, despite their IP on tequila production, then us schlubs in Canada shouldn’t feel so bad. I also question nations like Ireland (although I guess it’s kind of part of the U.K.) and Belgium not cracking the top 10. I want answers, dammit!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4.5 Sips out of 5):
This recipe is intended to be a shot, but I increased the ingredient increments and turned it into a nightcap cocktail. The drink gave me my first chance to use our Macadamia Nut Liqueur, which I subbed for the originally scheduled Hazelnut Liqueur and it tasted great. A highlight of the cocktail was the hint of salt you got with each sip, thanks to the Macadamia Nuts garnish!

September 28 – Das Boot

Festival Follies

Today marks the beginning of Oktoberfest, causing drinkers everywhere to rejoice in an orgy of beer bashing and mischievous good times. While Germany is home to this fiesta, the festival is celebrated the world over… well, maybe not in those loser countries where the people don’t drink… did I mention how loser that is? I would love to celebrate a true Oktoberfest sometime in my life. Here are some other festivals that top my list of must-dos:

La Tomatina – Spain

Throwing tomatoes at a bunch of strangers… count me in! I wonder how many people end up with seed-related injuries as a result of La Tomatina. Similarly, Spain also has the Grape Throwing Festival, while Italy is home to the Battle of the Oranges. What is with Europeans and wanting to throw food at each other… starving folks around the world must be pissed about this!

la-tomatina

Holi Festival – India

While I really don’t want to ever go to India, the country’s Holi Festival looks really neat. On the plus side, many areas around the world have ripped off the event and I might not need to ever go to India. Basically anywhere you can find people throwing coloured dust at each other will get the job done. The Color Me Rad event takes place around the world, but includes a 5km run (which you have to pay for!), so eff that!

Calgary Stampede

There’s that Canadian content again! I would love to attend this cowboy and cowgirl dream sometime and it wouldn’t be too hard, given my proximity to Calgary and having a few friends based there. From what I’ve heard, the partying is crazy and there are free pancake breakfasts each morning to help you sober up and get ready for another day of tight jeans, plaid shirts, ten gallon hats and leather boots. Yeehaw!

Calgary Stampede

That’s my type of gunslinger!

Dia de los Muertos – Mexico

Otherwise known as Day of the Dead, this Mexican event puts Halloween celebrations to shame. If you’ve never seen a graveyard in Mexico that is a sight everyone needs to behold at some point in their life. Mexicans honour their deceased family and friends with decorative grave sites, which they maintain with great regularity. All the candles and embellishments are quite impressive.

Carnival/Mardi Gras – Brazil/New Orleans

So long as you don’t get robbed, beaten, sexually assaulted, or murdered, then this would be a fun time. Regardless of where you celebrate it, you’re sure to see a horde of beautiful women, from Brazil’s butt shakin’ beauties to all the tourists who take their game to New Orleans and drunkenly expose their naughty bits in exchange for beads and other trinkets.

Mardi Gras Kitty

Pingxi Lantern Festival/Obon Festival – Taiwan/Japan

These two festivals involve lighting lanterns and releasing them with the Pingxi Lantern Festival finishing with lanterns being released into the sky, while the Obon Festival ends with lanterns being let loose to float away in the water. The whole concept was used in Disney’s Tangled and was one of the most beautiful scenes I’ve ever witnessed in 3-D.

Songkran Water Festival – Thailand

I’m a huge fan of getting wet (take that as you may!) and any event that supports the worship of water is fine in my books. The Thai celebrate by soaking each other with all available items from buckets to squirt guns to hoses. My weapon of choice would be water ballons because then you also get that wonderful splat sound when you hit your target!

Songkran Water Festival

San Fermin Festiva – Spain

Known worldwide thanks to its main event of the Running of the Bulls, I don’t really need to attend for much else. Just let those suckers loose, get out of my way so I can have a little run before finding safety and it’s on to the next thrill. Who doesn’t want to risk getting gored into oblivion by a 2,000-pound beast? Surprisingly, only 15 people have died since 1910, as a result of the running.

Pride Festival – Worldwide

Mrs. Sip and I have yet to attend a Pride Festival, despite living in a part of the world that has a thriving LGBT community. The issue is that we’re always away over the August long weekend (usually in remote areas) and not around to partake in celebrations. We will have to rectify this if we ever have a free long weekend in the future.

Pride Festival

Monkey Buffet Festival – Thailand

Feeding monkeys and partying… that’s an easy sell for the Sip Advisor! Even after I was attacked by monkeys in Indonesia, I still love the little bastards. One can only hope that after feeding them, they will hang around long enough to share a drink with the ol’ Sip Advisor and then we can become true bros complete with swapping e-mail addresses and friendship bracelets.

Oktoberfest – Germany

The Sip Advisor has a decent amount of family living throughout Germany, so this is another festival that could be enjoyed legitimately with little trouble. Every time Mrs. Sip or I are in the country, it’s a boozefest, so why not combine the greatest beer festival known to man in our travels and visitations. At least we honour this tradition at home when we can’t make it to Munich, in person.

Drink #271: Das Boot (A Sip Advisor Original Recipe)

Das Boot Shooter

  • 0.75 oz Jagermeister
  • 0.75 oz Sand Berry Liqueur
  • Garnish with an Orange Slice

I’ve already experienced St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin, so I left that off the list and it’s a good thing too. If I want to hit all of these events, it looks like I’m going to have a pretty busy calendar!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3 Sips out of 5):
I had originally wanted to use a Strawberry Liqueur Mrs. Sip and I picked up in Germany for this shot, but when I popped open the bottle, the liquid had solidified. I was able to get some out, but not knowing the status of it, I decided to err on the side of caution and toss the stuff in favour of Sand Berry Liqueur, also found in Germany. My boot shot glass really came in handy for this recipe!